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Not so fun in the sun

Summer is known for outdoor parties, graduations, road trips, vacations, summer jobs, and a variety of events that teens live for. It’s the season every teen driver looks forward too, plus it gives them another reason to drive, other than going to school. Unfortunately, because of the added freedom that summer offers, and the extra time behind the wheel, the season is also known for something else.

The period between Memorial Day and Labor day mark “The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer,” which include seven of the top 10 deadliest driving days of the year. In fact, according to the most recent data available (2009) from the National Center for Health Statistics, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-20-year-olds.

As summer comes into full bloom, it’s a good time to raise awareness to the dangers of driving and remind our teens of the risks that come with it.

Help for parents

In a an effort to help parents and teen drivers work together, the National Safety Council has announced a new program, DriveitHOME. The program was designed by parents for parents that includes a fully interactive website featuring videos, information resources, and infographics to help parents understand the dangers their teen are at risk of.

NSC picture library

NSC picture library

Parents can also sign up for free weekly emails that include practice tips and other resources, including a Parent-Teen Agreement and  a parent forum.

Examples of advice for parents from the DriveitHOME program include:

 

  • Practice with them- Sit beside them while they drive -often-before and after they get their license to check on their progress.
  • Set a good example- Drive the way you want them to drive. Your teens will mimic your bad behaviors.
  • Sign a parent-teen agreement- This sets guidelines and expectations for you and your teen.
  • Let teens earn their privileges- Earning privileges helps teens understand the value of responsibility.
  • Talk to other parents- Let others know your rules so they can be enforced even if you’re not around.

“To truly protect their children, parents should continue to coach their teens in the car for at least the first year after their teens get a driver license,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO.

No LOL moment

In 2012, AT&T conducted a survey among teens as part of the “It Can Wait” program to address texting and driving among teens. Alarmingly, the study found that while 97 percent of teens know texting and driving is dangerous, 43 percent said they still do it, and 75 percent have witnessed a friend do it.

The teens were also asked about their parents influence on them when it came to texting and driving. 77 percent of teens surveyed claimed that their parents do in fact warn them of the dangers of texting and driving, yet do it themselves “a lot.”

 

 

Other highlights from the AT&T Teen Driver Survey:

  • Peer pressure- 89 percent of teens expect a reply to their text within five minutes
  • Gateway dangers- 70 percent of teens believe texting at a red light is dangerous, yet 60 percent admit to texting at a red light, and 73 percent admit to at least glancing at their phone at a red light.
  • Learning by example- 41 percent of teens say they have seen their parent(s) send or receive a text or email while driving.
  • There’s an app for that- 89 percent of teens said a phone app to prevent them from texting and driving like AT&T DriveMode would be effective.

According to the PEW Research Center, texting is the number one form of communication among teens. In fact the study said the median number of texts sent by teens 12-17 on a typical day was 60 in 2011!

Take Action

As of 2011, over 12.6 million teens own a license to drive (NHTSA). As these teens are released into the summer season from a long school year, it becomes more important than ever to talk to them about safe driving methods. Programs like the ones mentioned before and AAA’s Keys to Drive, can help give parents the tools they need to communicate with their teens, while reinforcing their own safe driving practices.

Keeping your teen safe behind the wheel this summer is a priority that you can’t afford to set aside. Take the time to discuss the dangers of driving with your teen before it’s to late. When you show that you care, involve yourself in their learning process, and take responsibility for your own actions,your teen is much more likely to follow your path towards safe and responsible driving methods – this summer and beyond.

Top Ten Deadly Teen Driver Mistakes (AAA, 2011):

  1. Risk Taking
  2. Un-buckled
  3. Speed
  4. Rowdy Riders
  5. Cell Phones
  6. Messing with Music
  7. Late Night Cruising
  8. DUI
  9. Peer Pressure
  10. Overconfidence

 

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